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Prescottia oligantha (Sw.) Lindl.
Small prescott orchid
South Florida Status: Extirpated within historical range. Last plants translocated from the wild in 1960.
Taxonomy: Monocotyledon; Orchidaceae.
Habit: Perennial terrestrial herb.
Distribution: Native to South Florida, the West Indies, Mexico, Central America, and South America.
South Florida Distribution: Miami-Dade County.
South Florida Habitats: Rockland hammocks.
Protection Status: Listed as endangered by FDACS and critically imperiled by FNAI.
Aids to Identification: Luer (1972) has illustrations and color photos.
References: Small, 1933a; Correll, 1950; Luer, 1972; Long & Lakela, 1976; Correll & Correll, 1982; Wunderlin, 1998; Coile, 2000; Liogier & Martorell, 2000.
Historical Context: Alvah A. Eaton discovered small prescott orchid in 1903 in Hattie Bauer Hammock near Homestead (Correll, 1950). He vouchered this population from cultivated material in 1905 (s.n., GH), and apparently collected specimens at Hattie Bauer Hammock that same year (1211, GH; 1240, GH, NY). In 1953, Ray Garrett collected it again in a hammock without precise locality data in Miami-Dade County (s.n., FLAS), but this was presumably from the same station. According to Luer (1972), the only known station of this orchid was slated for development in 1960, so a few plants were translocated to Everglades National Park. Although most of Hattie Bauer Hammock was preserved by the Fennell family as The Orchid Jungle, the southern portion of the hammock was destroyed for a housing development. It is presumed that the small prescott orchid station was in the southern portion of the hammock.
In 1989, Don Keller re-discovered small prescott orchid in a hammock on Long Pine Key (Hammer, 2001). Roger L. Hammer and Keller photographed a flowering specimen that same year. About a half dozen plants were discovered by 1992, before Hurricane Andrew struck (Hammer, 2001). Neither Hammer nor Keller has revisited this site since the hurricane, so it is uncertain whether or not the population survived. Hammer spoke with Carlyle Luer about this station, but Luer was unable to recall the exact location where the plants were translocated. Nevertheless, with the evidence at hand, it appears that small prescott orchid was introduced into Everglades National Park and is extirpated within its historical range.
Comments: The two South Florida specimens were collected in late February and early March, so surveys should be conducted within those two months.
Recommendations: · Survey Keller station to determine if plants are extant. · Consider reintroduction to Hattie Bauer Hammock. · Maintain Everglades National Park population until such time as a successful reintroduction can be accomplished.
Update: Rediscovered on March 6, 2016 on Long Pine Key in Everglades National Park by Chris Evans with Jake Heaton and Drew Mullins (Heaton & Evans, email comm. 2016), presumably from plants translocated from Hattie Bauer Hammock in 1960; 10 plant were observed, three in flower. The population was verified by Jimi Sadle, Park Botanist on March 7, 2016 (email comm.). The original known translocated population was in Palma Vista #2 Hammock (Gann 2015:78-79), but this discovery was from a different hammock. This second hammock, however, is also known to have been a repository for other translocated orchids during the same period, and the Prescottia oligantha there are thought to be progeny from plants introduced into the park from Hattie Bauer Hammock (J. Sadle and G. Gann, pers. obs.).
Citation: Gann, G.D. 2016. Species Account Update, Prescottia oligantha, Floristic Inventory of South Florida Database Online. The Institute for Regional Conservation. Delray Beach, Florida.